Scott Morrison attends a Chinese New Year ceremony in 2019. (Image: AAP/Ellen Smith)

Senior Australian political figures can curse the American president as often as they please without fearing Trump will halt shipments of Australian beef or tell Amazon to stop dealing with Australian customers. Yet it appears few of our political leaders dare utter a harsh word about China’s president, or speak frankly about the serious challenges that country presents to Australia for fear of the consequences.

As a result, the public conversation is at risk of becoming skewed. As prime minister Turnbull could mock President Trump in public and yet back-bencher Andrew Hastie is taken to task for speaking frankly about China.